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Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration

February 08, 2007

Arizona State University’s department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance presents the live performance premiere of Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. This monumental work takes Handel’s Messiah, considered one of the most performed classical works of all time, and reinterprets it using African American idioms, including gospel, jazz, reggae and hip-hop. The performance starts at 8 p.m., Friday, March 2, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams, Phoenix.

Originally produced as a Grammy Award-winning recording by Quincy Jones in 1992, the work has never been performed in its entirety. Jeff Kennedy, a lecturer in the department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus, will lead over 400 of the Valley’s top performers and ensembles in a community event performance. According to Kennedy, the musical extravaganza will be unlike anything the city has ever experienced.

“I’ve always envisioned this work being presented as a community event, featuring the best artists in the city performing in interesting collaborative combinations, and then all together on the huge “Hallelujah” finale,” said Kennedy. “What’s been exciting for me has been the enthusiasm and willingness of these Valley participant groups to collaborate, though many are widely diverse in their typical genre of performance.” 

Featured artists include the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church choir, the Phoenix Boys Choir, and the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra, soloists, instrumentalists, dancers, rappers, actors, and DJs. Special guests include Chris Willis, an internationally-known vocalist who was featured on the original recording, and M-Pact, one of the country’s most prestigious a cappella vocal groups. 

The event is co-sponsored by the ASU West Campus Black History Month committee, who will present the Pioneer Award to Carol Coles Henry, director of the Equal Opportunity Department for the City of Phoenix. Coles Henry is being honored for her significant contributions and commitment to promoting diversity.

Tickets are available through the Orpheum Box Office by calling 602-262-7272. Ticket prices are $15 in advance, $18 the day of the performance, and $10 for students. This performance is supported with grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.